Evanston, Illinois may not seem like the epi-center of a galactic struggle between “The Force” and the “Dark Side” of bullying, but for seven-year-old Star Wars’ fan, Katie Goldman, it surely was. When the first grader announced she would no longer be bringing her cherished Star Wars waterbottle to her classroom, mom and dad wanted to know why. Katie was as mum as R2D2, but her parents kept pressing. Finally, the little girl said her classmates were teasing her because “only boys liked Star Wars.” She didn’t want the water bottle anymore.
Katie’s mom, Carrie, was perturbed. “Do kids find someone who does something differently and start to beat it out of her, first with words and sneers? Must my daughter conform to be accepted?” she wrote in her blog. The entry struck a chord. School officials phoned to support Katie. A thousand blog hits later, actress Catherine Tabor who does a voice-over on the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” shared the little tyke’s plight with her castmates and then contacted Katie. Suddenly, all manner of Star Wars memorabilia began showing up in Katie’s mailbox. An online retailer even sent a toy light saber. Carrie’s blog recorded 3000 comments in support of Katie, and toys came pouring in to the little girl who just wanted to be different.
As a result of Katie, over 20,000 people have signed up to donate toys to needy kids this holiday season; a Facebook page is sponsoring a dress-like Star Wars day in support of Katie; her elementary school is holding a “Proud To Be Me Day” along with anti-bullying programs; and thousands of kids have written Katie to tell of their bullying experiences and how Katie’s story has helped them.
Katie plans to attend the ‘Proud to Be Me” Day, Star Wars water bottle in hand. Seems “The Force” has a new Jedi master with the size and courage of Yoda, but much cuter.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger